This reply came from Jugulum. It was censored on Team Pyro:
"The meaning doesn't reside in the comments themselves, but rather in the shared culture which allows me to predict the meaning you and they are likely to assign."
OK... I can sort of accept that there is no "inherent" meaning in the particular combination of shapes that make up the content of these comments. Nor is there inherent meaning in the sounds that they map to, if we speak the comments aloud. For communication to work--or, for me to be able to predict what meaning you will assign to my words--there has to be some "shared culture", in your terminology. At the very least, we must all be English-speakers. (But that's not all there is to it. There are other degrees of "shared culture". For instance, an isolated hill-billy will misunderstand a Brit's comment about carrying a torch onto a lift. i.e., there's lingo, jargon, slang, regional dialects, etc.)
I get that much. As far as that goes, I see merit in what you're saying.
Can't we still say that my comments have an inherent meaning, based on the context of my culture? Or if you don't like that phrasing: That there is a meaning which I intend--a meaning that is graspable by anyone with access to my culture? A predictable understanding, in your terminology? That there is an authorial intent, accessible to others? (I'm not claiming that anyone will necessarily perfectly understand that intent. Our horizons of cultural understanding will never perfectly coincide. But we can approach each other.)
In fact, we could say this: Any time we try to read or hear someone else's words, we should seek to understand their culture/language. When I speak, I assume that there is a shared culture. And I expect that my listeners will pay attention to that. That they'll seek authorial intent.
If you insist that there isn't inherent meaning in the collection of symbols I put together--isn't there inherent meaning in, "Those symbols, put together by Jugulum, a 21st-century American native English-speaker"?
All of this translates to, "We should seek to use an authorial-intent hermeneutic. The better we exercise such a hermeneutic, the better we will understand. (i.e., The better we achieve shared culture, the better we will be able to predict the intended or received meaning.)"
The hope for this thread is to have an open ended discussion on this. All are welcome.